Jarrell Walking Tour

See the Jarrell Walking Tour map

Randall Jarrell was born in 1914 in Nashville, Tennessee. He enrolled at Vanderbilt University in 1932 and completed his graduate work there in 1938. Jarrell first taught at Kenyon College from 1938-1939 and then at the University of Texas from 1939-1942. He married his first wife, Mackie Langham, a fellow English professor, in 1940. From 1942-1946, Jarrell served with the Army Air Corps during World War II. In 1946, he moved to New York City to serve as temporary literary editor of The Nation. While there, Jarrell also taught at Sarah Lawrence College.

In 1947, Jarrell accepted a teaching position at the Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, which is now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. During this time, Jarrell took a leave of absence from 1951-1953 to teach at Princeton, Indiana, and Illinois Universities, respectively. He separated from his first wife, Mackie Langham. He then married his second wife, Mary von Schrader, who had two young daughters from a previous marriage. Jarrell left Woman’s College from 1956-1958 to serve as Poetry Consultant for the Library of Congress, a position that later became known as “Poet Laureate” of the United States. Upon his return to the university, Jarrell would remain as a faculty member in the English department until his death.

On October 14, 1965, Jarrell was hit by a motor vehicle while walking down a darkened highway in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He died instantly. Jarrell was buried across the street from Guilford College in Greensboro, not far from the home he shared with his second wife. Mary von Schrader Jarrell died in 2007 and was buried next to her husband. Randall Jarrell was posthumously inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame for his accomplishments.



Randall Jarrell

Mary von Schrader Jarrell